Mary Delach Leonard

Work/Life Reporter

Mary Delach Leonard is a veteran journalist who joined St. Louis Public Radio in December 2013 when it merged with the St. Louis Beacon. She had been a reporter for the Beacon since April 2008 -- after a 17-year career at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, where she was a reporter and an editor in the features section. Her work has been cited for awards by such organizations as the Missouri Associated Press Managing Editors, the Missouri Press Association and the Illinois Press Association. In 2010, the Bar Association of Metropolitan St. Louis honored her with a Spirit of Justice Award in recognition of her work on the housing crisis. Leonard began her newspaper career at the Belleville News-Democrat (in Illinois) after earning a degree in mass communications from Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville, where she now serves as an adjunct faculty member. She is partial to pomeranians and Cardinals.

Ways to Connect

Dred Scott's grave is one of the most frequently visited graves at Calvary Cemetery. This photos was taken in November 2016.
Mary Delach Leonard | St. Louis Public Radio

Why aren’t Dred Scott and his wife buried in the same cemetery?

Pamela Richardson posed that question to Curious Louis recently after a visit to Calvary Cemetery in north St. Louis, where Dred Scott is buried.

“I wondered, ‘Is she not buried with him — and why not?’ I had been to Calvary many times. I had seen his place of rest, but her name was not on the tombstone,’’ said Richardson, who has family members buried at the cemetery.

St. Louis native Sean Gunn as Kirk in the "Gilmore Girls." The pig is named Petal.
Netflix

If actor Sean Gunn isn’t out promoting the Netflix reboot of the “Gilmore Girls,’’ which premieres on Friday, you might find him at a comic book convention meeting fans of the film “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2,” which will be released in May.

The two projects meant months of commuting between the West and East coasts for the 42-year-old St. Louis native who follows Cardinals baseball wherever he is and admits to liking both Imo’s and Pi pizza. And, yes, he went to high school here — St. Louis University High.

Preservation lab technician Rebecca Thorn pieces together fragments of a fire-damaged record at the National Personnel Records Center in November 2016
Mary Delach Leonard | St. Louis Public Radio

Archivist Marta O’Neill was standing inside a warehouse-sized storage bay at the cavernous National Personnel Records Center, just off interstate 270 in north St. Louis County.

Nearly 60 million individual military personnel records are stored at the site, but this storage bay is unique. It houses only B-files: the 6.5 million records salvaged from the 1973 fire at the center’s old facility on Page Avenue. That fire destroyed the records of 18 million veterans who served in World War I, World War II and the Korean War.

St. Louis Public Radio reporter Mary Delach Leonard weighed the postcards mailed to her home in Madison County by Ill. state representative candidates Dwight Kay (R) and Katie Stuart (D), 112th district. They weigh 4 1/2 pounds.
Mary Delach Leonard | St. Louis Public Radio.

Whether you’re in a blue state, red state, happy or fed-up state, it’s all over, except for the recycling.

Yes, it’s time to make a clean sweep of the election flyers and door hangers.

The campaign yard signs and banners.

The political postcards that stuffed your mailbox every doggone day.

A sign in the window at the downtown office directs veterans to the new benefits office at 9700 Page Ave. in Overland on Monday, Nov. 7, 2016
Mary Delach Leonard | St. Louis Public Radio

The VA is still working to get the word out to veterans that its regional benefits office has moved from downtown St. Louis to the Prevedel Federal Building at 9700 Page Ave. in Overland.

The VA closed its offices at 400 S. 18th St. on Friday afternoon and reopened Monday morning at the Overland location.  It was a massive move involving about 800 employees, along with representatives of Veterans Service Organizations like the American Legion, the Paralyzed Veterans of America and the Veterans of Foreign Wars.

Deer visit the SIU-Edwardsville campus.
Pete Burzynski | Flickr | 2007

Madison County leads the state in vehicle crashes involving deer, and November is the most at-risk month for such accidents, according to the Illinois Department of Transportation.

Eight people died, and more than 600 were injured in 2015 in 15,754 vehicle-deer accidents in the state. Nearly 45 percent of those crashes occurred in October, November and December. There were 440 accidents in Madison County followed by Cook County with 431. By comparison, St. Clair County reported 212 crashes involving deer.

These Trolls didn't hang out on the internet. Part of a toys exhibit at the Missouri History Museum opening Oct. 29, 2016.
Mary Delach Leonard | St. Louis Public Radio.

An exhibit opening Saturday at the Missouri History Museum offers a peek into the toy chests of baby boomers:

* There are Slinkies and Mr. Potato Heads.

* Roy Rogers figurines and first-edition Barbie dolls.

* Lionel train sets and Betsy McCall paper dolls.

These are the toys that entertained children before the Information Age — when games were played on colorful boards with dice, not touch screens. And Trolls were glass-eyed with wild hair and didn’t lurk on social media.

Local community leaders say a new website devoted to the Mississippi River will boost tourism up and down the river.

They gathered Wednesday at the National Great Rivers Museum in Alton to celebrate the launch of the Mississippi River Geotourism MapGuide, a website that highlights river towns, attractions and businesses. The project, which took more than two years to complete, is a partnership between National Geographic Maps, the National Park Service, the Army Corps of Engineers and regional organizations like the Mississippi River Connections Collaborative and the Meeting of the Rivers Foundation.

Charlie Hoessle helped start the St. Louis Zoo's education department in the 1960s.
Courtesy of St. Louis Zoo

For St. Louisans of a certain age, the statue outside the herpetarium at the St. Louis Zoo depicts a familiar figure: Charles H. Hoessle — better known as “Charlie” — who taught them about snakes and exotic reptiles when they were schoolchildren in the 1960s.

Hoessle worked for the zoo for 40 years. He helped start the zoo's education department in 1964 and hosted the weekly “Saint Louis Zoo Show’’ on local TV from 1968 to 1978.

Provided by VA St. Louis Health Care System

Updated 4:30 p.m., Sept. 23, with new director announcement.

Keith Repko has been appointed as permanent director of the VA St. Louis Health Care System. He had been serving as interim director since January.

The appointment was announced Friday afternoon by the VA.

Repko is well-known at the St. Louis VA, where he's worked since 1991. Before his promotion as acting director, he served as a deputy director.  

Our previous story:

The eighth interim director to lead the VA St. Louis Health Care System is Keith Repko, who has been deputy director of the agency for more than a year.

Repko says he will continue to focus on improving access to health care for area veterans.

The church's doors are in need of repair.  They are original to the structure, which was built in 1821.
Mary Delach Leonard | St. Louis Public Radio

Supporters of the Old St. Ferdinand Shrine in Florissant are trying to raise $400,000 to repair the nearly 200-year-old complex, which includes some of the oldest Roman Catholic buildings in the Louisiana Purchase Territory.

Age and weather have taken a heavy toll on the shrine's church, convent, rectory and school building, according to Geri Debo, secretary/treasurer of the Friends of Old St. Ferdinand Shrine. The nonprofit formed in 1959 to care for the historic brick structures after the Archdiocese of St. Louis replaced them with new parish buildings.

The historic Goldenrod Showboat is currently docked near Kampsville, Ill.
Mary Delach Leonard | St. Louis Public Radio

Six months after a preservation group bid the Goldenrod Showboat a final farewell, the St. Louis landmark has again avoided the salvage yard, and there's a new plan to disassemble and rebuild the historic vessel on land.

The nonprofit Historic Riverboat Preservation Association had been working to buy the Goldenrod from the owners of the dock where it has been moored on the Illinois River. Volunteers with the group gave up on that effort after the century-old showboat was damaged by flooding in 2015, and they expected that the Goldenrod would be scrapped or burned.

courtesy of September 11 Memorial Walkway

Organizers were expecting hundreds to attend Sunday’s dedication of a Sept. 11 memorial in Belleville that includes a steel beam from the World Trade Center.

The ceremony is at 2 p.m. and will mark the 15th anniversary of the terrorist attacks that killed nearly 3,000 people in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania.

Linda Lockhart | St. Louis Public Radio

On Sunday, as Americans remember the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks that killed nearly 3,000 people in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania, 93-year-old Warren Nelson of St. Louis will avoid looking at the photographs.

Wikipedia

The National Park Service has been studying proposals to extend the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail east from St. Louis and wants to know what the public thinks.

Yes, they mean EAST.

Of course, we in St. Louis know that Meriwether Lewis and William Clark headed WEST from these parts in May 1804 to explore President Thomas Jefferson’s new hunk of real estate, the Louisiana Purchase.

(Courtesy Emerald Automotive)

Whatever happened to that company that planned to build electric delivery vans — and create 600 jobs — in Hazelwood?

Mary Delach Leonard | St. Louis Public Radio

Kathie Harnacker is house hunting in Ferguson.

She braved relentless rain on Sunday afternoon to tour a compact three-bedroom brick ranch on a tree-lined street in the Old Ferguson West neighborhood.

“This house is great,’’ she said, while standing in the lush patio garden. “It looks well-maintained. It looks like a very nice neighborhood.”

Courtesy Madison County Fair Association

Organizers of the Madison County Fair say the 120-year-old event will go on as usual this week, despite the ongoing lack of funding from the state of Illinois.

This is the second year for the state's budget impasse, which has held up funds earmarked for county fairs. Organizers from across the state have scrambled to make do, said Wayne Steiner, president of the Madison County Fair Association.

Mary Delach Leonard | St. Louis Public Radio

Wanda Trotter, 68, thought about her childhood as she watched a play at the Missouri History Museum depicting the experiences of African-Americans traveling Route 66 before the Civil Rights Act of 1964 outlawed discrimination in public accommodations.

“I remember my parents packing our lunches and telling us that certain places you could not go to eat, or to use the bathroom facilities,’’ said Trotter. Her  family drove the famous highway from St. Louis to San Diego, Calif., in the early 1960s to visit her brother who was in the Navy.

Mary Delach Leonard | St. Louis Public Radio

Fans of the World’s Largest Catsup Bottle will hold their 18th annual festival on Sunday, their first gathering since the Collinsville landmark changed ownership last November.

Mike “The Big Tomato” Gassmann, president of the water tower’s preservation group, say he's relishing the occasion.

“We’re really happy with our new owner, and we’re really looking forward to the future,’’ said Gassmann, who wears a button on his cap that reads “I put catsup on my ketchup.”

Mary Delach Leonard | St. Louis Public Radio

Original story published June 23, updated June 30 with audio from "St. Louis on the Air."

Just in time for summer, the Missouri History Museum is taking a road trip down Route 66 with a colorful exhibit on the Mother Road that opens Saturday.

The focus is St. Louis’ place along the famous roadway that opened America’s West to cross-country motoring in 1926.  The ribbon of pavement stretched 2,400 miles from Chicago to Los Angeles, touching eight states along the way. 

Mary Delach Leonard | St. Louis Public Radio

“Dogtown? How did it get its name?"

That was the query to Curious Louis from attorney Nathan Goldberg, who wondered about the colorful name of the historic St. Louis neighborhood located just south of Forest Park.

itunes gift cards
401(k)2013 | flickr | 401kcalculator.org

Beware of scammers who’ve discovered the convenience of iTunes gift cards, warns the St. Louis Better Business Bureau.

It’s just a new version of an old song: Thieves ask for iTunes entertainment cards to pay for counterfeit or nonexisting merchandise, or even to settle debt. The goods and services are bogus, and the consumer is out of luck.

Provided by family

On Memorial Day, Beth (Clover) Vincent of Warrenton, Mo., will honor the father she never knew: an Air Force pilot who went missing during the Korean War. 

But Vincent will find some solace this year in knowing that the people of South Korea appreciate the sacrifice her family made six decades ago. She was among the families of American Korean War veterans who spent last week visiting Seoul as guests of South Korea’s Ministry of Patriots and Veterans Affairs.

Wikipedia

Updated 10:25 a.m., May. 25 with winning proposal: A developer has been selected to reopen the landmark Bevo Mill in south St. Louis. The city's Land Clearance for Redevelopment Authority says Pat and Carol Schuchard have been chosen for the project. They already own two event venues: the Boo Cat Club and the Majorette.

Mary Delach Leonard | St. Louis Public Radio

Several Vietnam veterans told an Illinois task force on Monday that the Veterans Administration should be doing a better job of treating depression and post-traumatic stress.

The Illinois Task Force on Veterans’ Suicides is holding hearings throughout the state to investigate ways to prevent suicide among Illinois veterans. Nationally, 22 veterans kill themselves every day.

Mary Delach Leonard | St. Louis Public Radio

On a warm spring afternoon, Italian archaeology students from the University of Bologna were painstakingly sifting through mud from a pit they’re excavating at Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site in Collinsville.

Heading the group is Imma Valese, 29, who’s been coming to Cahokia Mounds for six years. She has written her master’s thesis on the ancient Mississippian culture that thrived at Cahokia 1,000 years ago. Now, she’s working on her doctorate.

Mary Delach Leonard | St. Louis Public Radio

Jim Alderson and Nelson Grman spend hours at Union Miners Cemetery in Mount Olive, Ill., about 50 miles northeast of St. Louis, looking after the monument to Mother Jones, the fearless union organizer who crusaded for workers’ rights a century ago.

Mary Delach Leonard | St. Louis Public Radio

When Robert Charles Howard retires as conductor of the Belleville Philharmonic Orchestra in a few weeks, he hopes a certain musical instrument will follow in his footsteps: an aging 32-inch timpani that has lost much of its luster.

“I’ll miss the job, but I won’t miss this,” Howard said with a smile, as he rolled the dented kettle drum back into its place in the instrument storage room at the orchestra’s rehearsal hall in downtown Belleville.

Mary Delach Leonard|St. Louis Public Radio

The 2016 baseball season finally starts HERE on Monday.

There’ll be a sea of red in the stands at Busch Stadium and Clydesdales circling the warning track, as Cardinals fans put a rocky week of on-the-road baseball behind them and welcome home their 2015 National League Central Division champs.

Scroll down for info on opening day ceremonies -- a highlight will be the first pitch by beloved Hall-of-Famer Lou Brock -- and changes fans can expect at the ball yard this season.

And, because it’s the 10th anniversary of the stadium, we begin with a little quiz.

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